The Lafayette Charter Commission will move toward its April 2011 conclusion with the goal of formulating two options for governance in Lafayette Parish that will go before voters in a parishwide referendum in either the fall of 2011 or, more likely, spring of 2012.
Based on reports in today’s Advertiser and Advocate — The Independent Weekly goes to press on Monday evenings, consequently attending commission meetings is hit-or-miss for us; last night was miss — those two options are: 1) the creation of a separate council and mayor for the city of Lafayette while maintaining a consolidation of services such as drainage and roads between the city and unincorporated parts of the parish; 2) maintain Lafayette Consolidated Government but amend the charter in yet-to-be determined ways in order to address issues like governance of Lafayette Utilities System.
“We have to address LUS,” Commissioner Bruce Conque said Tuesday morning. “That would be at the top of the list.”
Currently, the Lafayette Home Rule Charter stipulates that the Lafayette Public Utilities Authority — the five City-Parish Council members whose districts are at least 60 percent within the city of Lafayette — is the sole governing authority for LUS. But because the other four council members each represent some city residents who would be disenfranchised if their council representative was prevented from voting on matters pertaining to the city-owned and -operated public utility, the full nine-member council also votes on things like LUS rate hikes, even though they’re not granted authority to do so in the charter.
Conque said that the commission will offer Lafayette voters at least two choices in the parishwide referendum — the aforementioned creation of separate city and parish council, and the less drastic option of tweaking the charter. Conque added that creation of a separate commission composed only of city residents to act as the governing authority for LUS would almost certainly be in that second option, among other things.
The commission was sworn in and began its weekly meetings in August. It soon became evident that most of the commissioners who are city residents want to see the city of Lafayette achieve some type of sovereignty. There has been some tension evident at the meetings among the five city commissioners and the four commission members who live in unincorporated Lafayette Parish, but the momentum the last few weeks has been toward creation of autonomy for the city of Lafayette through the creation of its own council and mayor.
One fly in the ointment has been Commissioner Don Bacque, a city resident who remains steadfastly — stubbornly, it might be argued — opposed to any major changes to the current form of government.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.